newsletter-063-may-1976

Newsletter

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The HADAS annual general meeting will take place at Central Library, The Burroughs, NW4 on 15th May -- a Wednesday, not a Tuesday, this year. Coffee will be from 8.00p.m.; business meeting, with Vice-President Eric Wookey in the chair, at 8.30, followed by a slide-show of HADAS at work and play.

Dorothy Newbury has assembled pictures of as many of the year's events as possible. These will include digs in progress, photos taken on outings (including the weekend at Hadrian's Wall), winter work on finds, shots of various HADAS exhibitions. In addition, two small exhibits showing last year's digs (at St. James the Great, Friern Barnet, and Woodlands, Golders Green Road) will be on display.

The committee looks forward to seeing as many members as possible at this HADAS "family" occasion.

Summer Outings

Members have already applied for this month's joint outing to Letchworth with the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute Society, on Sunday, 9 May.

Next month's outing will also be on a Sunday, 13 June, to Butser and Portchester; from full details, and application form, in the June Newsletter.

Subsequent outings will be:


Sat July 10 - Kings Lynn.
Sat Aug 7 - Chedworth Roman villa and Crickley Hill.
Sept 17-19 - inclusive - Weekend at York.


The Digging Programme

The dig on the site next to the White Swan Pub, Golders Green Road, started in the weekend of April 10/11, when the area was fenced and gridded, and some "concrete bashing" on the eastern edge of the site, next to the roadway, got under way. By Sunday evening three trenches had been opened to a depth of some 9 inches. The top-soil, as expected, produced nothing except a fine crop of broken glass (mostly beer bottles), pipe stems and 19th/20th century pottery.

This preliminary work means, however, that a good start can now be made on the levels below. For the moment, work will be on Sundays only, from 10.00a.m.-5.00p.m. (No digging of this site on a made on ninth, because of the Letchworth outing). Volunteers are welcome, beginners as well as more experienced diggers. Let to Jeremy Clynes know if you intend to come along.

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The Society's dig on a possible Mesolithic site on Hampstead Heath (discovered as a result of HADAS member Alec Jeakins noticing a number of worked flints on the surface) begins on Saturday 1 May and will continue every day until 16 May, 10.00a.m.-5.00p.m. It is hoped to provide protection over the trenches in wet weather, so rain should not stop digging.

Most Members who wish to take part in this dig have already signed up. If you have not done so, please telephone Daphne Lorimer will provide further details. The dig will be under the direction of professional archaeologist Desmond Collins (now an Hon-member of HADAS). Plans are in hand for employing various modern techniques on the site, such as wet and dry sieving. It is hoped that soil flotation equipment might also be available.

The Season's Lectures - From Behind the Projector

Mrs. Betty Hellings-Jackson's account of her journeys to the "forgotten city" of Petra with her husband left many members quite breathless as the audience followed her through the difficult terrain of the site. For the student of archaeology, Mrs. Jackson -- a self-confessed romantic -- did perhaps omit many fascinating details about the monuments and civilisations of this once flourishing city. However, her enthusiasm to share obvious delight in her explorations brought to the winter lecture season to a successful conclusion.

All the for lectures this winter have been well supported (over 90 members at most meetings) and from the "projection chair" at the back of the hall it is interesting to note that while about half the audience are regulars (i.e. come to all meetings), the other half varies slightly at each meeting, obviously reflecting the different interests of members. Of the Programme Committee are, I think, to be congratulated on providing such a good and varied season of lectures; no mean feat when one considers how wide the study of archaeology has become in a recent years.

A broad approach to the subject was succinctly and expertly surveyed by Dr Alexander in November when the Society's nose was lifted from our local trenches to view World Development. The excellent idea of arranging a lecture about the site visited the previous summer enabled Geoffrey Toms to explain and illustrate recent work at Wroxeter which many members have seen for themselves. Andrew Saunders informative talk about Martello Towers and Napoleonic defences in January certainly put new life into these monuments for many of us. The description of Medieval York filled many members of the audience with enthusiasm when Mr Addyman described the challenging work being done by both amateur and professional archaeologists in the city. Certainly the special visit to York this September arranged by the indefatigable Dorothy Newbury should on no account be missed! Inevitably for me, certain lectures or speakers are more memorable than others (not necessarily those occasions when the slides become jammed in the protector!) And the lecture I shall particularly remember from this winter season is "Vernacular Architecture" (horrible title!) in March. Since listening to Miss Harding's clear and well illustrated talk, I have looked at all houses with new eyes and been well rewarded in most cases.

I am sure that all members of the Society will wish to thank the Programme Committee, and particularly the Hon. Programme Secretary, Dorothy Newbury, for the tireless efforts in arranging the lecture season. Their reward is obvious in the high attendance at each meeting. All that remains for them to do is to produce a programme of equal quality and variety next year. What a demanding membership we are!

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College Farm, Finchley

HADAS has for several years taken a keen interest in what was happening to College Farm, Finchley. This is the Express Dairy Farm, once a model of its kind, near Henly's Corner, at the junction of Regents Park Road and the North Circular Road. The last cows left the farm (now shrunk to 10 acres in extent) in 1974; a few weeks later the buildings were closed and the contents of the Museum of Dairying which had delighted many a visitor to the farm, were removed into store.

The Finchley Society and HADAS formed a small joint sub-committee to keep an eye on the situation. Both societies were worried lest vandalism should occur; and both felt that, if possible, some local amenity use should be made of the buildings and land.

The property belongs to the Department of Environment. The first action of our joint committee was to encourage the Department to get together with the Dairy Trade Federation, who were known to be looking for premises which would be suitable for a National Dairy Museum. College Farm appeared to have many advantages as the site for such a centre. Indeed, both the Department of Environment and the Federation appeared prepared to consider the idea, but unfortunately their negotiations came to nothing.

In the meantime the buildings themselves were, as we feared, suffering considerable vandalism.

We have now been informed by the Department of Environment that the land and buildings have been let on a 4-year least "for agricultural purposes." We understand that these fields are to be cropped for hay and the buildings used for stabling horses. We had been assured that a prompt start is to be made on repairing the buildings and that part of the cost will be borne by the Department of Environment.

If this comes to pass, it seems -- for the time being, at any rate -- a happy solution. The fields will remain as an open space and be properly looked after. The buildings will be in use and protected. Our joint Committee, however, proposes to keep a watchful eye on the farm; and also to consider seriously what might happen in four years time were the farm again to become vacant.

The Woodlands Dig

From 16 August, 1975, to February, 1976, HADAS explored part of the garden of No. 1, The Woodlands, NW11. This site lies on the east side of the junction of the Golders Green and North Circular roads.

The dig was directed by ALEC JEAKINS. This is his report:

The excavation took place at the western end of the garden of No. 1, The Woodlands (TQ 2410 8850). The part of the garden examined was delineated by the boundary wall along Golders Green Road on the west, and the Decoy Brook (a tributary of the Brent) flowing in a modern channel on the east.

The purpose of the excavation was to re-examine the site which had been briefly excavated in 1968 (see Trans. London & Middlesex Arch. Soc. Vol. 22, pt. 3, 1970, p.23: "An Investigation of Roman Road 167," site C). The pebble structure uncovered in 1968 hand had been tentatively dated 14th/early 15th, following examination of the associated pottery.

The excavated area measured 3 m by 8.6 m with a 1 by 2 m extension at the Northeast or stream side. The section along the North side was drawn.

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Three features were uncovered. Nearest to Golders Green Road was:

FEATURE A. A pebble embankment, approximately 3 m wide and with a maximum depth of 35 cm. A high proportion of the pebbles were of ovoid shape and the average size was 30-50 millimetres. The embankment rested on yellow clay. The one-metre wide section cut through it produced no artefacts. Clean sand between most of the pebbles and the lack of soil contamination suggested that it has not been disturbed since its construction.

FEATURE B. A ditch-type structure dividing A from C; 1 m wide and 35 cm deep, it appeared to have been deliberately filled. The fill was a mixture of brick, tile and domestic rubbish, including a considerable quantity of Staffordshire transfer ware.

FEATURE C. A pebble embankment or road, approximately 4 m wide and between 35 and 75 cm deep. The metalling ranged from fine crushed gravel to pebbles of 20-40 mm. A number of pieces of Medieval Pottery were recovered from the upper part of this structure. Examination of the section suggested that the road had been repaired at least twice; there was a thin capping layer of fine gravel and what appeared to be a new edge to the road on the Northeast side. The Northeast end of the section also showed evidence of three or four floodings of the road by the stream. The pebble tailed off into this flood-disturbed area, and also at the base of the trench into the London clay.

The pottery from Feature C has been looked at by Michael Rhodes of the Museum of London. He considers that most of it comes from the Hertfordshire reduction kilns of the twelfth century. There is a surprising variety of fabric types, and so far I have been able to parallel only one group of sherds -- with the material found at Gentle's Yard, St. Albans. A horse or ox shoe in three pieces and two sherds of 1/13 century jug were also found among the pebbles.

Two coins were recovered: from the topsoil a sixpence (?) with all details on both sides worn away; and in the fill of Feature B a very worn William III half penny. The coin is unusually thin and the complete absence of detail on the reverse suggests it may have been used for shove-halfpenny.

An examination of the large scale maps of the area -- starting with the 25 in. OS 1936 edition and going back to Isaac Messeder's map of 1754 -- provided additional information that aided the interpretation of the site. The alignment of the present Golders Green Road seems to have been established by the mid nineteenth century. Between the 1914-36 editions of the 25 in. OS, the North Circular Road was built and considerable landscaping of the garden of 1, The Woodlands took place, including the realignment and channelling of the stream. The eighteenth century maps show Golders Green Road as a wide strip of land, presumably little more than an unmetalled track, with travellers searching its width for the driest and least potholed piece of "road." At the point where the road meets the Brent the road is very wide, with the Decoy Book running alongside.

My interpretation of these three features is as follows:

FEATURE C. A medieval road or embankment, the evidence of repairs suggests it was used for a number of years. It was presumably built as a structure that would have protected the traveller from all but the worst of the winter floods. As no attempt was made to trace its length it will be interesting to see if any similar metalling is revealed by the HADAS excavation now in progress by the White Swan, and the dig which we hoped to do on the Brent Bridge Hotel site.

FEATURE B. A post-medieval stream bed filled during the landscaping of the garden; 1864 and 1914 OS maps showed the stream in this position.

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FEATURE A. A post-medieval embankment, date of construction and function unknown. The camber on this structure was too steep to allow it to be considered as another road. This was a feature uncovered during the 1968 excavation.

I would like to thank all members of the Society who helped dig this site, and particularly Colin Evans, Paddy Musgrove and Percy Reboul who directed excavations during my absence, and Dorothy Newbury for providing refreshments in all weathers.

Industrial Archaeology

Some months ago a flurry of activity took place on the HADAS Industrial Archaeology front, initiated by Paul Carter and Alec Jeakins. Meetings were convened, a small group was formed and it was decided to record, as a special project, those farms which still remain in the Borough of Barnet.

Since then it has not been possible to carry the farm survey project much further. Paul no longer works in the area and Alec has had other archaeological irons in the fire (as you will realise if you have read the previous report on Woodlands).

Recently, however, a new member, BILL FIRTH, has offered to breathe new fire into our I.A. group. Bill, who is also a member of GLIAS (the Greater London Industrial Archaeological Society) sends this note:

"I'm keen to try to reactivate some Industrial Archaeology work in Barnet. At present I'm sifting through the Society's records to find out what has already been covered. I have already found that a good deal of preliminary work has been done on the Farm Survey, and I hope that we shall be able to get that going again.

Ideally, one would like to take stock of the whole of the Boroughs industrial monuments and record them systematically, but I realise that often it is going to be a case of an emergency session to deal with something which is under threat of disappearing. It would be helpful if any HADAS member who knows of an industrial site or object which should be recorded would let me know about it.

And would anyone who would like to help with the Farm Survey or who is interested in Industrial Archaeology in general or in any particular aspect of it please get in touch with me and let me know?" Ring or write to Bill Firth.

The April Outing

Report by Alec Gouldsmith.

On a crisp sunny morning HADAS left Hendon for the first outing of the 1976 season.

The opening port of call was Coalhouse Fort, which commands a stretch of river where the Thames narrows considerably and provides excellent cover downstream. Originally a blockhouse had been constructed here in the time of Henry VIII, and this was further developed in the 18th/19th century. Unfortunately only the nineteenth century rebuilding is now visible, plus additions made during the two wars of this century.

Next stop was Tilbury Fort, a fine and well-preserved example of seventeenth century military engineering. As we arrived from the North, we stopped to observe the outer defences and the site of the land-gate. Our entry was made by the side of the "watergate", an imposing edifice erected in the reign of Charles II. Although a blockhouse had been built here in 1539, the present fort was almost entirely constructed between 1660-85, with modifications in 1860 and this century. The chapel now contains an exhibition of the history of the Fort. We visited the "Dead House", a chamber over the landgate, and the powder magazines, originally built in the eighteenth century but altered for modern requirements.

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We lunched on the river front overlooking Gravesend. After lunch we went to Greensted Church, small, wooden and Saxon, and almost completely filled by our party. It is believed that a Celtic church stood on this site from about 600-700 AD, founded by St. Cedd, who had built his cathedral inside the old Roman Saxon Shore Fort at Bradwell. The logs of which the present church is built have been shown by modern techniques to date from 845 AD. The walls were formed by splitting oak trunks in half and then joining them with wooden tongues to form a continuous wall with the flat surface inside. No doubt originally these walls were set in a trench; now they stand on a brick base. The whole is held together by wooden pins. There are no windows, but some light and was admitted through "eye-holes", (now plugged) cut out by an augur. The Normans added a stone chancel -- the arch still exists, as do the flint footings. In Tudor times the chancel was rebuilt in brick, the chancel arch modified and a priest's door added.

Tea was taken at Chipping Ongar, in a haunted tea-room. No ghost appeared, at an excellent tea did.

Our last visit was to Waltham Abbey. Mrs. Rhona Huggins of the local history society showed us round. In the Lady Chapel we saw the recently excavated late fourteenth century stone statue of the Madonna, which had apparently been given Christian burial in the sixteenth century after being mutilated by iconoclasts (see London Archaeologist, vol. 2 No. 11). There was time to see the supposed site of King Harold's tomb in the grounds, the lay-out of the cloisters and remains of a vaulted entry.

Many thanks indeed to Ted Sammes and Dorothy Newbury for organising this varied and interesting outing and above all for arranging such a lovely spring day for it.

Recording a Churchyard

A book published jointly last month by the Council for British Archaeology and Rescue points up the importance of the work which HADAS has been doing for some years in Hendon at St. Mary's churchyard and the project on which we have just started at St. Andrew's Parish Church, Totteridge. This 40-page study on "How to Record Graveyards" is by Jeremy Jones, himself a worker for the last five years one the recording Deerhurst Gloucestershire.

Mr Jones deals with the reasons for recording churchyards, what should be recorded, methods and equipment, record cards, coding and photography. He touches on what should happen after such a survey, by way of analysis and publication. His valuable bibliography ranges widely, from Burgess's classic "English Churchyard Memorials" through learned papers on such subjects as the economics of the coffin furniture industry to Fritz Speigel's "Small Book of Grave Humour."

Philip Rahtz's Preface stresses the importance, to both archaeologists and historians, of striving to provide a total record of each local churchyard before it is Lost in what he calls "the crisis in gravestone archaeology." The CBA, he says, publishes the book "in the hope that it will enable the evidence of many churchyards to be saved from oblivion." Obtainable by post, price £0.75, from the CBA, 7 Marylebone Road, NW1 5HA.

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